With the forthcoming All-Star activities this weekend and early next week some of the initial hype has been with the new format of “teams” being picked by the respective league captains for the home run derby. Prince Fielder and David Ortiz were anointed the captains of each team and handpicked their squad.
Prince went with teammate Rickie Weeks, former Rockie Matt Holliday and Dodger center fielder Matt Kemp. Facing off against the National League is Ortiz and his teammate Adrian Gonzalez, new super slugger Jose Bautista and Robinson Cano of the Yankees. I personally would have liked to see Fielder, Mike Stanton, Mark Reynolds, Adam Dunn (if you missed him taking BP at Coors last week, shame on you), Justin Upton, Ryan Howard, Nelson Cruz and Wily Mo Pena duke it out and the winner decided by average home run distance rather than pure number of dingers blasted. Put on a real show, not a bunch of wall scrapers; get the guys who hit real bombs.
What if we went through the same exercise but with players who have worn the Rockies uniform? Who would you like to see take cuts in a Rockies only home run derby?
We could go the easy route and just take the top four or five from the Rockies all time leader list: Todd Helton (342), Larry Walker (258), Vinny Castilla (239), Dante Bichette (201) and Andres Galarraga (172) but that would leave some good choices like Holliday, Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki on the sideline. What about a guy like Jeromy Burnitz? When he ran into one he ran into it like an Atwater into an Okoye. I would rather see guys hit deep bombs than balls that barely get over the fence.
If I am looking for big fly type of hitters than I immediately toss out Bichette. Rockies fans love him and his signature swing and glove rip when he hit home runs but in his career with the Rockies he hit 136 home runs at Coors Field – when it is was the best home run park in baseball – and only 65 away from Coors Field. I also recall a lot of balls just barely getting over the wall in left field, but then again, maybe that is my bias (I am not a big Bichette fan). Either way he proved he didn’t have enough power to hit bombs away from Coors on a regular basis at least not with the same frequency he did at home.
To a lesser extent Vinny Castilla also falls in the same group with Bichette (137 home runs at home versus 101 on the road with the Rockies). It should be mentioned that Castilla actually hit more home runs AWAY from Coors Field in 2004 than he hit on Blake Street. I would listen to arguments for Vinny in our home run derby but he is not one of my four selections.
Without further ado here are my four selections for the Colorado Rockies home run derby:
Andres “The Big Cat” Galarraga: based on the strength of that bomb he smoked in Florida’s Pro Player…er…Sun Life…er…Joe Robbie…er…Dolph…whatever-they-want-to-call-it stadium. Of Galarraga’s 399 career home runs only 172 came in a Rockies uniform. In 1996 when he led the league in home runs he did hit twice as many at Coors as on the road but in 1997 when he hit 41 the split was 21/20 in favor of Coors Field. And then the next year he hit 44 in a Braves uniform. He was not a product of the mile high air, he was legit.
Larry Walker: In Walker’s MVP season in 1997 he hit 29 of his 49 home runs on the road. Rockies beat writer Troy Renck says he is the best athlete to ever put on a Rockies uniform and who am I to disagree? Walker hit for a high average by choice and didn’t try to pound the ball. I want to see Walker in his prime swing from his heels.
Carlos Gonzalez: Out of the current group of Rockies I want CarGo in my home run derby. If you have read me on my previous websites you know I might be a little rough on CarGo when it comes to pitch selection but is there a Rockies player in the past five or 10 years that has hit the ball as hard as CarGo? I will never forget that home run against the Chicago Cubs last year to complete the cycle and the walk-off win. That bomb was into the third deck! Some of his shots you could hang clothes from and in my home run derby I would ask him to try to put a little more air under the ball and my guess is he could produce moon shots of monstrous proportions.
Matt Holliday: I will take the current St. Louis Cardinal and the previous body that occupied the #5 for the Colorado Rockies as my fourth and final home run derby participant. How many balls did Holliday give to unsuspecting fans walking the concourse behind the pavilions in left field when he was in Denver?
Some other names that I gave thought to were Chris Iannetta, Bunitz, Ian Stewart, Tulo and Jason Giambi. All of these guys hit the ball very hard and deep.
Who would you pick for your all time Rockies home run derby?
Follow me on Twitter: TravisLay_BSB